I’ve been grappling with an unaccustomed emotion over the last few weeks: fear. Not anxiety, not nervousness – I’m good at both of those – but real, visceral fear.
Why? Well, one of the projects I haven’t been talking about is how to make an income. While I can get through the end of the year without going bankrupt, I do eventually need to bring in enough money to pay expenses. To do that, I’d like to start a business of my own: teaching (mostly online) about the creative process. So I’ve been reading up about online marketing and content creation, with the intent of creating a new website for the business.
And that’s when the fear hit me.
What if I’ve got it wrong? What if I create a ton of valuable content that nobody wants to pay money for? I know the things I’m writing about have value, both because I see it directly and because my beta readers have told me that this is great stuff. But for people to be willing to pay money for it, it has to solve a problem they already know they have, and they have to be able to find my offerings when they look for solutions. Given that most craftspeople look for help within their craft, is there any chance for a business that teaches about the creative process across all crafts?
I don’t know. I hope there is, but I also have the grave suspicion that there’s not. So I’m terrified.
I do, however, have a solution – the only effective antidote I’ve found for fear:
(That’s taped to the wall right behind my monitor, so I see it every time I look up.)
One of the most transformative experiences of my life was an Impact self-defense class, “Defense Against the Armed Assailant.” Impact, for those of you not familiar with it, is an emotionally intense – and very effective – women’s self-defense program. You fight full-force against a padded instructor who behaves like a real assailant – pinning you to the ground, threatening you, reacting when hit or kicked. The program was started when a female state karate champion was raped, and her sensei realized that karate generally does not address the ways in which women are typically assaulted. In particular, it doesn’t address predatory attacks, and it does not address fear. She was attacked and thrown to the ground, and found herself paralyzed by fear.
To address this, Impact trains their students in the most realistic scenarios possible, so their students will be prepared for a real attack. Their goal is to make their students afraid – and to teach them to fight through it. They transform their fear into anger, and then into explosive power.
There is a moment, staring down the barrel of a gun, when you know. This is it. You’re going to die. There’s nothing you can do about it; if he decides to fire the gun right now, you’re going to die. Fear fills you, completely paralyzing you.
But there’s another moment, a few seconds later. You’re still staring down the barrel of the gun, still frozen, but you realize: “Even if I’m going to die, I can still act. And I will act, even though it means I could die.” Once you reach that tipping point, that moment of internal commitment, you explode into action, and you fight with total commitment, because doing anything less means giving up your life. And that transforms your fear into power.
So the unofficial motto of Impact is: “Feel the fear. Do it anyway.”
So that’s what I’m doing right now. I believe the right thing to do right now is to put everything I’ve got into marketing the book and creating my business, and have committed myself to that. So I need to feel the fear. And do it anyway.